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Proposed plastic bag tax is focus of Fairfax Co. public hearing Tuesday | WTOP

A 5-cent tax is proposed for disposable plastic bags offered at grocery, convenience, and drugstores in Fairfax County, Virginia. A public hearing is being held Tuesday.

The future of a 5-cent tax on disposable plastic shopping bags in Fairfax County, Virginia, will be the topic of a public hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center. According to the county, residents must sign up in order to provide testimony in person or by phone, or offer written or video testimony in advance.

The tax is intended to limit the use of single-use plastic bags. According to Clean Virginia Waterways, plastic shopping bags have been some of the most frequently found pieces of litter along waterways in the commonwealth.

The proposal follows changes at the state level allowing such a tax. And if passed by the Board of Supervisors, it would take effect Jan. 1 and make Fairfax the second locality to approve one. (Roanoke was the first earlier this year and Alexandria is considering a tax.)

The county explains that the tax would be charged at the checkout for each plastic bag the retailer provides. The following disposable bags would be exempted from it:

  • Bags used to wrap meat, produce, ice cream, unwrapped bulk food or perishable food.
  • Bags used to carry dry cleaning or prescription drugs.
  • Bags sold for garbage, pet waste or yard waste.

Out of every 5 cents collected by the state per bag, retailers would keep 2 cents until Jan. 1, 2023, when that share would drop to 1 cent. The county’s share would go toward environmental cleanup, pollution mitigation and waste-reduction education programs.

WTOP’s Jack Pointer contributed to this report.

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